Campus Watch Returns With Another List of Back to the Future McCarthyism

Campus Watch is “Watching.”

Campus Watch, one of the New McCarthyism’s most egregious excesses, continues to list academics and other critics of its barnstorming, ideological-cleansing crusade against academic freedom. In its latest efforts in “Setting the Record Straight,” Daniel Pipes’s website has published a list of individuals who have allegedly erroneously written about the academic watchdog and its highly nationalistic, confrontational mission to stifle debate on the Middle East. I am included in their latest gambit to “set the record straight”:

“writing at his blog, allows his fixation with Campus Watch to get the better of him, again. This time, he ascribes an article to Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes that was, in fact, written by Campus Watch West Coast representative Cinnamon Stillwell.”

I had written a response to Cinnamon’s critical commentary of an academic freedom conference that I participated in at New York University last February. I forthrightly acknowledged my unintentional error nineteen days later, on March 14, 2008, concerning the provenance of the piece. Somewhat gratuitously Cinnamon continues to express exasperation that she was not cited as the author. Again, I acknowledge the error. {Update: Campus Watch, subsequent to my post, has noted my corrections of the misattribution.} The broader issue is not provenance but the approach to dealing with disparate views on issues of colonisation, racism, peace and justice in the Middle East.

Indeed, I don’t think the Pipesian West Coast henchwoman has truly “set the record straight.” I wrote in my response to their criticism of the N.Y.U. “Freedoms at Risk Conference:”

…”they believe no American academic should criticise Israel; no American academic should explore Palestinian suffering behind the walls of death and despair; no American academic should teach, utter, write or speak about any aspect of the Middle East, Israel, Iraq, Iran unless it entirely comports with the muscular, preemptive world-wide war against Islam–with YOUR son or daughter–not theirs.”

I believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the savage destruction of Gaza have certainly raised significant questions about the judiciousness of our foreign policy and whether the 4300+ American deaths have justified such actions. Wars must remain within the public sphere of vigorous dissent and debate as lives are lost and dreams shattered.

I don’t believe Ms Stillwell has fairly addressed my main point. For those who may be unaware, it was Campus Watch that was established in 2002 with the mission to “monitor” Middle East Studies departments on university campuses throughout the United States. They published a list of professors whom they construed as disloyal, sympathetic to terrorism and anti-American with the intent of marginalising or cleansing them from the academy. Hundreds of aroused non-specialists, including myself, demanded they be included in the blacklist as an act of anti-McCarthyism solidarity. 

Mr Pipes then dutifully published another list with the provocative title: “Solidarity With the Apologists.” “Apologists” was an explicit reference to a term bandied about during the witch hunts of the 1950s, in which academics, Hollywood filmmakers and other intellectuals were accused of being “apologists” for the Kremlin and the “communist menace” in general. Then Mr Pipes removed the original blacklist and the solidarity list from his website. He knew he had gone too far and had to retreat from this excess.

However, to set the record straight, Daniel Pipes as Colin Wright wrote in Situation Analysis, Spring 2004, believes that those professors who disagree with him should essentially be arrested or expelled from America. Writing for the New York Post, Pipes’s columns were entitled, “The Terrorist Next Door,” (August 12, 2003), “Profs Who Hate America,” (November 12, 2002) and “Terrorist Profs,” (February 24, 2003). Such uncontrolled rodomontade exceeds anything from any of those listed on Cinnamon’s latest list.

For the record, I never take this stuff personally. Cinnamon and I have exchanged several pleasant e-mail including my regard for her Haight-Ashburyesque name. Yet in the public sphere we continue to express our divergent views with gusto. Well I guess that is what Barack wants us to do: go for it but with civility.

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